HorseRacing Central – April 12th, 2013


With the familiar words “There They Go!”  track announcer Dan Jukich will officially launch the 2013 thoroughbred season at Hastings Racecourse Saturday when the ponies bolt from the starting gate at 1:50 p.m.

Saturday’s eight-race opening card will be the first of 69 days of live racing. Raj Mutti, General Manager, BC Racing and General Manager at Hastings, is on a mission to increase handle and field size for a third consecutive year.

“As part of our reduced takeout strategy we have seen significant handle gains over the pat couple of seasons,” Mutti says. “We were up five per cent in 2011 and 12 per cent in 2012.  Our mandate is to keep that momentum going.”

Mutti said that Hastings’ industry-leading low takeouts will again be at 15% Win, Place and Show as well as the Pick 3, 4, 5 and Daily Double features.  Also this year there will be 60-cent wagering on the Pick 5 in addition to 20-cent wagering on the Pick 4 and Superfecta.

Racing fans won’t have to wait long to catch their first glimpse of newly arrived jockey Aaron Gryder, who has made a name for himself the world over.  Gryder, whose mounts over the years have earned more than $112 million, makes his Hastings debut aboard Castinette Dancer in Saturday’s third race.

It will be one of three mounts for Gryder, 42, who has signed as first-call rider for owner Glen Todd and his North American Thoroughbred Horse Company (NATHC) under six-time leading trainer Troy Taylor. Gryder will be on Senor Rain in Saturday’s featured seventh race, a six-furlong allowance sprint that serves as a prep for the $50,000 George Royal on April 28.

Senor Rain, claimed by Taylor at Santa Anita in February, is a co-favourite along with trainer Greg Tracy’s Dollarwaitnonadime with Fernando Perez in the saddle.  Fernando finished second behind Amadeo Perez (no relation) in last year’s jockey standings.  Amadeo is not riding opening weekend but is expected to be in Vancouver early next week to defend his title.

Start times both Saturday and Sunday are 1:50 p.m.


The Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes headlines Saturday’s card at Keeneland (2:40 p.m. PST) with the top two finishers looking to earn a ticket to the May 4 Kentucky Derby. Trainer Mark Casse has the morning-line favourite with Miguel Mena riding Uncaptured, whose main competition is expected to come from Java’s War (Julien Leparoux) and Rydilluc (Edgar Prado).

The 89th running of the Blue Grass will be directly preceded by four consecutive graded stakes including the Madison and Jenny Wiley both with $300,000 purses, as well as the $175,000 Commonwealth and $100,000 Shakertown.

Another highlight as part of Saturday’s out-of-town simulcast coverage is the $1 million Arkansas Derby (3:28 p.m.) from Oaklawn Park.  The morning line favourite at 5-2 is Ox Bow with Gary Stevens in the irons.


A reminder that Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino has reverted to a standardbred schedule of Friday and Saturday nights (7 p.m.) until mid-May before taking a three-month hiatus.